Crystal Palace 0 Birmingham City 1
When Steve Bruce was confronted before this game by a grown man in an eagle costume giving him the thumbs-down for leaving Crystal Palace and going to St Andrew's six seasons ago, the Birmingham manager barely batted an eyelid.
It has been such a bizarre fortnight for Bruce that he would not have been surprised to see Elvis Presley providing the pre-match entertainment, or Shergar winning the 2.40 at Lingfield Park.
Stranger still would have been Palace owner Simon Jordan welcoming Bruce with a hearty pat on the back.
Not much chance of that, though, after his Birmingham counterpart accused him of being a 'frustrated actor' and likened him to 'that bloke in Sexy Beast . . . Ray Winstone' in the build-up to a meeting between two sides who are never likely to make their peace in the near future.
Considering Palace's abject performance against Blues, perhaps another Winstone film, Nil By Mouth, might have been more apt.
As Bruce walked to his seat in the dugout, accompanied by Selhurst Park security staff, with thousands of Palace fans booing his every step, the Birmingham manager probably expected the unexpected.
So when the home side's mascot joined in, it just about put a tin hat on it.
Bruce had already been jeered by his own fans six days earlier for making substitutions that the crowd did not agree with.
Blues' co-owner David Sullivan had already whipped up the Blues fans by suggesting they did not deserve promotion as they could not fill St Andrew's every week. And when Sullivan met the Midlands press corps this week at his Essex mansion, he fanned the flames again by underlining his eventual plan to sell up because he was fed up with the fans. Somewhere amid all this apparent in-fighting was a cunning plan, however.
Blues may give the impression of a club being torn apart from within, but Bruce somehow managed to steer himself and his team away from the hyperbole.
And at Palace, Blues did what they do best at the moment. Win football matches.
Anyone reading some newspapers last week might not have realised that Blues are second in the Championship and heading back for the Premiership at this rate.
For the record, Blues have now won two games in six days and Bruce knows that, somehow, that is only just about good enough. He spent the days after the Stoke victory last Sunday having to explain himself, but this win shows that Bruce means business.
The former Manchester United skipper did not think things could get much worse when Matthew Upson was sold against his wishes. Bruce might have considered his future as manager after that, but he has come back with a dogged determination to get it right at St Andrew's.
This win was a lesson in how to get promoted. Gary Megson adopted something similar at West Bromwich Albion when he twice took the Baggies up — in a nutshell, if you do not concede goals, you do not lose.
On this occasion, Blues' win was built on a sparkling policy of all-out attack in the first half. That was followed by a stubborn resistance after the break when it became obvious that Palace had little with which to threaten Bruce's side.
And with three more games to come in the next ten days, Bruce knows players need to conserve energy.
That even applied to Cameron Jerome, who played one of his best games for Birmingham since signing from Cardiff City last summer.
Jerome's pace and enthusiasm posed several problems for Palace and it was fitting that he scored the only goal of the game.
It was true to say that Jerome faded late on as Blues's defence took centre stage, with Martin Taylor and Radhi Jaidi foiling any hopes Palace had of levelling the scores.
But this was a game that Birmingham's Denmark striker, Nicklas Bendtner, will want to put right against Sunderland tomorrow night.
He missed a sitter in only the second minute after Jerome had set him up with a clear scoring opportunity.
He also squandered a number of other chances. Yet it was Bendtner's clever pass that found Jerome for his goal.
This was a clinical victory and even had the travelling Blues fans asking Bruce to 'give them a wave' which made a pleasant change from the 'you don't know what you're doing' chants during the Stoke game.
"They like me really," smiled Bruce. He was talking about the Palace supporters, but the remark could easily have applied to the Blues faithful.
Paul Ifill hit the post for Palace before the break but Blues goalkeeper Colin Doyle only had to make one save of any real note throughout the afternoon.
Bruce was just glad that the events of the previous week had not affected his players: "It has been a strange week, to say the least," added the Blues manager with a wry grin.
After the boardroom outbursts, Bruce had distanced himself from the comment, presumably so as not to get into an exchange of views via the media, but his team did the talking for him.
It was not the most attractive victory although Bruce argued that his forwards had shown enough to suggest Blues can entertain when they want to.
However, over 46 games, the apparent grinding-out of results is the most effective way of getting back among the elite. Bruce feels that 90 points will be enough to do it — only 30 to go, then.
Scorer: Jerome (34).
CRYSTAL PALACE (4-4-2): Kiraly; Borrowdale, Hudson, Cort, Butterfield; Ifill, Fletcher, Lawrence, Kennedy (McAnuff, 60), Freedman (Scowcroft, 73), Kuqi (Morrison, 60). Substitutes: Ward, Speroni (gk).
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Doyle; N'Gotty, Jaidi, Martin Taylor, Sadler; Johnson, Clemence, Muamba (Larsson, 79), McSheffrey; Jerome (Danns, 89), Bendtner (Vine, 82). Substitutes: Campbell, Maik Taylor (gk).
Referee: S Tanner.
Bookings: Palace — Fletcher; Blues — Sadler, Larsson.